Swami Dayananda Saraswati on Bondage - the process of becoming



When one doesn’t love certain things or doesn’t like certain things, but cannot get rid of them, they become bondage for the person. It is that wanting to get out of something and not being able to. I want to get out of this struggle to become happy but I cannot rid myself of the struggle. I want to be free from insecurity, but I find myself helplessly insecure. That’s bondage. Being insecure is bondage. Being bound by time is bondage. Being bound by various limitations is bondage. Who is it that feels this bondage? Vedanta discusses it this way. The physical body does not feel the bondage. Neither does the mind.

The person or the ego feels the bondage. No matter who the person is, wherever there is “I” sense, there is a sense of bondage also. That I want to be different from being what I am is bondage. In Vedanta, we say that a life of becoming is a life of bondage.

I cannot but struggle to become because I am not acceptable to myself as I am. I struggle to become that person in whom I can be free, meaning in whom I find total acceptance, complete acceptability. Suppose I become that person in terms of wealth, in terms of health or in terms of any accomplishment that I gain. Then afterwards, once again, I want to become. Thus, I am always in the process of becoming.

This ongoing act of becoming itself reveals that there is no way of becoming free. You don’t become free, because the very fact that you want to become reveals that you are not free. The attempt to become free is a denial of freedom, according to Vedanta, because it betrays a self non-acceptance. We can say that this is the original sin or the original problem. That constant wanting to become or needing to become somebody else is the original problem. And in that somebody else, I expect to see myself as a free person, free from want, who won’t need to become any more.